Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Facing Life's Challenges

Today, it's difficult to find feel-good news. Most of the news is about home foreclosures, government bailouts, topsy-turvy stock markets, terrorism, political shenanigans, and many other uncertainties. Unfortunately, we cannot escape the constant diet of gloom and doom without resorting to reclusive lifestyles.

One of the primary reasons I am writing this blog is to move away from this type of news saturation. I want to talk about how to overcome the deleterious news by discussing how to express our positive potential in our everyday actions.

For many people, it is difficult to let go of harmful habits. Some of us have habits embedded so deep within us that they keep us tied to victim beliefs. They just don't seem to go away no matter what we read, listen to, or meditate on. When we reach this point in our lives, we are usually willing to listen, or to seek answers from different sources.

A key factor in listening is to know what you want to do. What are the things that are important to you? Do you really care about politics, religion, personal growth, family, and so forth? Perhaps these are things you only embrace for social and political correctness. They might also be the distractions victimizing you. In other words, it's your attachment to other people issues that's causing you problems.

Meanwhile, if your problem is addictive behavior to food, alcohol, or drugs, you might consider seeking information from sources other than the media. If you have a serious, life-threatening illness, you might consider seeking assistance from a medical or spiritual practitioner. And, if you are facing foreclosure, layoff, or bankruptcy, you must first empower yourself to face the issues.

It is you who must act from an empowered position when you face difficult challenges. The manner in which we face life's challenges determines who we are. We either face them as victims or as empowered individuals. It's not so much what's the problem, but who are you in the problem.

One of the greatest lessons we learn on our journey is that life is never uncertain. Everything that appears to be uncertain is actually predictable. The calamities, including some ecological ones, we encounter are caused by us. Regardless to how hard we try to blame them on someone else.

When we really stop and think about it, there's nothing uncertain about dying, illness, and financial problems. When we are facing financial difficulties, it is because of the decisions we made. While we seek security and prosperity in our lives, we also know it's possible for us to lose our jobs and the financial security they provide us.

Similarly, there's nothing uncertain about becoming ill. It happens to people every day. We know that nearly all of our illnesses are caused by our thoughts, the foods we eat, and our behavior. If we worry a lot, eat unhealthy foods, embrace anger and hatred for ourselves and others, and have sedentary lifestyles, you can be assured of having some type of illness.

To seek peace, one must first understand how to live with life's uncertainties, and not seek to escape from them by daydreaming of a better life in the future. When we face our present situations, and not become sidetracked by news reports of impending doom, we detach ourselves from the illusions of fear and uncertainty.

Nevertheless, unless we envision a successful future, we inevitably accept the present moment as depressing. It becomes difficult for us to perceive success and happiness even when we feel this way. The small things -- good health, family, friends, and work -- that bring us happiness fade into worthless passing moments as we contemplate the dreary news of tomorrow.

We have to use our time to develop the positive potential in ourselves. This means being present in every decision we make. It means we are responsible for what we eat, drink, think, and do.

When we face life in the present moment, we are able to wash away all the pernicious thoughts of the future.

"Seeds from the Ashes" is coming in 2009.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Tribute to Portia and Shakir

Today, we pay tribute to Shakir Stewart's exemplary life. We give his mother, Portia, our love and compassion to assist her on her life's journey. We offer these thought-provoking words to enrich her life with love, peace, and forgiveness.

The recent death of our (my wife and I) friend's son, Shakir, stirred a deep feeling of loss and emotional grief in me. It made me feel like a helpless victim overwhelmed by a torrent of unexpected emotional feelings.

The deep, heartfelt sadness I feel for Portia's loss of her son is so strong that it compels me to draw upon all my spiritual resources to gain control over my emotions. I seek refuge in the knowledge that I have the power to control how I think about myself and the events in my life.

Meanwhile, as I write now, it's been several weeks since Shakir's passing from one consciousness to another one. Yet, even today, his youthful life and death continues to resonate in my thoughts. I constantly wonder what I can do to assist Portia and her family with overcoming the pain and suffering I imagine they must feel right now.

As a friend and supporter, I believe I am in a unique situation to share my insights on some salient points on how to overcome pain and suffering. There's so many words you search for when you have a friend who is grieving the loss of her son; however the words forgiveness, love, peace, and letting go of the pain come to mind.

At some level of consciousness, I believe pain and suffering must be confronted with a clear mind and strong determination to overcome them. This is an arduous task for someone whose son has died unexpectedly. Nevertheless, unless we feel the pain and suffering, we cannot understand what we need to do to overcome it. By us sitting with the pain and suffering for awhile, we learn how to go beyond these emotions.

The pain and suffering we feel are tied to something deep within us. And for us to begin the transformative journey, we must seek answers to assist us with the decisions we must make as we move forward with our lives.

How does someone feel toward life after the unexpected loss of a son? How do you begin a new relationship?
Did you say and do all the things you wanted to say and do?
What are the rules -- social norms, family etiquette, political correctness, etc., -- that guide you to the next phase of your life?
Who explains all these things to you?

There are so many questions about what to do and few answers to explain the deep pain we feel.

Who can tell us what pill or medication to take to remove the pain and suffering from our lives?
When we feel listless, lost, with seemingly no where to go, what do we do? Who mends the broken heart?
Who brings forth the laughter?

The answers to all these and future questions are found within the pain and suffering. We have to look closely at what we are feeling so that we learn to treat our feelings as friends, not enemies. Yes, the pain and suffering in our lives can become our friends and allies, who will help guide us to the next phase of our journey.

For us to become friends with our emotions, we must first embrace personal forgiveness. This is the first step toward friendship. It allows us to first forgive ourselves for fighting the pain and suffering caused by the loss of a loved one. This allows us to know that any unspoken words or deeds not expressed during the person's life are not something to regret, or try and correct in our minds. There are no explanations or words that can ever explain the true meaning of someone passing from our lives.

The second part of embracing a new way to think and live is love; an unconditional love free of judgment, guilt, and regrets. This love is the freeing kind. It exists within the pain and suffering. We can use it to free our minds to see the beauty and love expressing itself as a son, a father, a husband, a friend, and a kind and loving person.

When we see life from the prism of unconditional love, and if we look closely at Shakir's life, we can see his spiritual footprints walking softly and firmly through our lives. And if we still our thoughts, we can even hear his laughter flow joyful from his gregarious personality. And if we really quiet our minds, we can feel his presence in us, in his children, and all of those he knew. Now we know that his life had great purpose and fulfillment during his brief time with us.

When we perceive life from the prism of unconditional love, this creates the space for us to see the peace within us. It is our peace that will guide us through the rough spots in our lives. Peace will consummate our relationship with our enemies -- pain and suffering. It will reside with us as we seek refuge in a higher level of awareness. With a peaceful mind all things are possible.

Now that the man, Shakir Stewart, has passed from us, we must continue to keep his great deeds and accomplishments in our thoughts. So when we feel sad, we think about his warm smile. When we feel tired and angry, we think about his bountiful energy and love for his family and friends. And when we feel like we are failures, we think about his strength and determination in achieving a successful career doing the work he loved.

Portia, may you and your family enjoy the richness of life that is rightfully yours.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Out of Control Fears

Whenever you find yourself stuck in a social ditch filled with the emotional stench of fear, worry, and struggle, you probably wonder how you ended up in such a deplorable place. Unfortunately, life, as we know it, is filled with unexpected twists and turns. So if you discover you're mired deep in an emotional ditch of despair and suffering, now is a good time to use your limitless resources to dig yourself out.

The digging begins with you recognizing that you have an untapped reservoir of power within you. This power is filled with options that you are currently unaware of, however, it contains the plan and expression of everything you need to solve your current problems. It clearly illustrates that you, and you alone, are responsible for your actions.

In the meanwhile, make no mistake about the seriousness of solving your problems, even those that you find daunting and frightening. There's two problems -- lack of money and poor health -- many people are afraid to confront. These two problems are responsible for most of the suffering in the world.

If you are free of these two problems, then you can focus your attention on some of the other problems that are frightening to you. Regardless of the problem, fear is fear, and you must overcome it to move forward in your life.

Today, we are focusing on the fears caused by the lack of money and its ancillary suffering. When you don't have the money that you believe you need, it causes problems for you. It means you are struggling to pay your rent or mortgage, or you feel impoverished to purchase a new car, or repair the one you have now, or you even might be unable to buy food or clothing.

Whenever you find yourself in a seemingly desperate situation, you can rest assured that fear will become part of the problem. This point is eloquently stated in the self-empowerment book, The New African American Man,
"For those people who have traveled with fear for so long that all memories of empowerment are lost, fear is master and lord over their lives. It manifests in many different images, which form the foundation for our reliance on rational knowing.
"Some examples are:

1. Fear of losing.

2. Fear of peer ridicule.

3. Fear of success.

4. Fear of failure.

5. Fear of living.

6. Fear of dying.

7. Fear of rejection.

Your fears lead you to yourself. They are your creations, your problems. They exist because you empower them to exist. The New African American Man further states,
"It is things outside of ourselves that feed the fears, causing us to become paralyzed and afraid to take the actions necessary to accomplish our goals. These fears must be treated as responses to appearances outside of the body and mind."

So, it's not so much the lack of money that causes the turmoil in your life, it's your beliefs about it. The road that leads away from pain and suffering is the untraveled one. It's the one that leads you to your intuitive consciousness -- the victim-free consciousness.

To begin your journey on the road to empowerment, you must first face your fears and work to overcome them. You do this by acknowledging that beneath the layers of suffering in your life is an intuitive power willing to assist you with the arduous task of problem-solving. Its sole purpose is to serve you.

Whatever you think and believe about yourself is the truth about you. The magnitude and duration of your problems are determined by the level of your fears. If you have few fears, then you have few problems. However, if your mind is clogged with fears, there's no room for new ideas.

So the first task is to focus on clearing your mind to perceive new ideas, new options, and new resources that will assist you with overcoming your self-imposed limitataions. In the chapter on Fear in the The New African American Man, there is a poignant statement about problem-solving:

"Identify the sources of your fears. Examine what causes you to believe that your present challenges cannot be removed. Exactly what do you anticipate happening if you take action to remove the fear?

"Remove the fears one at a time until their individual and collective powers are harmless to you. Challenge every fear with a positive action empowerment. To do this requires that you deny the existence of the illusions created by the senses."

When you change how you think about yourself, you enter into a world without fears. In this world, you are truly in control of your fears.

"The new personal growth book, "Seeds from the Ashes" is coming soon!

Monday, September 8, 2008


Some of the problems people face today are life threatening. They create fears in your life. They make you believe you cannot do anything about job losses, the sub-prime mortgage fiasco, and rising gasoline and food prices. The words self-reliance and personal responsibility are hollow sounds in a discordant symphony of life's mythical chants of self-help.

Whenever I hear one of the gurus tell someone they have the power to solve their own problems, I wonder if the individuals listening believe they have this power.

It seems incredulous that someone mired in victim beliefs -- unemployment, inadequate education, social and physical addictions, and the unwillingness to accept responsibility for having created the problems in the first place -- will suddenly, without guidance, believe they have the power to solve their own problems.

It seems more plausible to believe that if they had the power to solve the problems, they would already have solved them. There's obviously more to change than just telling someone about their undiscovered power. There are some steps that one must take to reach a point in one's life where you are comfortable with accepting personal responsibility and self-reliance as a philosophy for changing your life.

The meat and potatoes of any philosophy is believability. For many people, the solution to their financial problems is to make more money. The lack of money drives people to do drastic things to stay afloat in a sea of debt. After much strife, they are willing to pursue just about anything to overcome the pains of failure, the shame and embarrassment of losing their homes, and the sheer pressure of finding the strength to continue their lives in a cesspool of sleepless nights.

Whenever someone thinks they have become victimized by their circumstances, the mind automatically searches for the easiest, and less stressful solution to their problems. We train our minds to search for solutions we have used over and over in our lives. These are the solutions that cause us pain and discomfort. Nevertheless, we consider them to be workable solutions. Not withstanding, they caused the problems in the first place.

Similarly, that's why so many victimized individuals seek refuge in books, tapes, and a host of other audio-visual tools. They search for guidance from someone who has had similar problems and who was able to overcome them. This is the point in time when they are ready to make the decision to begin their personal growth training.

Personal growth training is a good way to address the issues in your life that cause you to think of yourself as a victim, or a powerless person. This type of training allows you to clearly identify why you feel stuck in the miasma of failure and suffering. You can use the personal growth techniques to go from a procrastinator to a person of action.

I am a personal growth trainer because I am able to contribute to making the world a better place for all of us to live. This type of work allows me to continue to work on myself and also share with others the techniques that help me to accept responsibility for the conditions in my life and take the actions to solve my own problems.

What is personal growth?
Personal growth is a way of life. It is a commitment you make to yourself to embrace personal responsibility and self-reliance as the cornerstone of change. It begins with the idea or desire to change. It expresses itself in your life when you accept that you have the power to change the way you are currently living.

What are some key aspects of personal growth?
1. Accept responsibility for your current problems and challenges.
2. Believe that you have the power to change your current situation.
3. Develop a plan of action based on a vision of yourself with power.
4. Use this plan to make the necessary decisions to overcome your problems.
5. Include in your plan a blueprint to clear your mind of the attachments and distractions that keep you tied to victim beliefs.
6. Evaluate your personal relationships with family, friends, and coworkers.
7. Evaluate your life's ambitions to determine if they will allow you to achieve the happiness and fulfillment that you seek for yourself.
8. Commit yourself to living in a clean, social friendly, and loving home environment.
9. Refrain from gossip and disparaging remarks about others as well as yourself.
10. Place your attention on being the person that is awake and alert to everything that is going on in your life.

There are many other aspects to personal growth; however, each aspect requires you to take the action to change the way you think about yourself and others.

Please remember: To trust yourself is to trust someone who knows you well. (MK)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Personal Responsibility Tools for Inner-City Families

I recently had the pleasure to discuss with some friends the importance of relying on yourself to solve your own problems. While it was an informative discussion, I suddenly realized that this type of philosophy, or way of thinking, is not that simple for some people.

The problem most of us face with relying on ourselves is that we don't know how to truly rely on ourselves for anything. Most of the time we use other people's ideas, rules, principles, beliefs, and so forth to shape how we think about ourselves and others. This makes it difficult to discern where we begin and other people end.

We teach children to become adults by advocating the importance of trusting their parents and teachers to guide them in the right direction. We teach people who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, and so forth that they must follow certain rules, procedures, and guidelines established by those who treat these addictions.

When does someone reach the point where they can teach themselves? When do you reach the point in your life where you know why you became addicted to something? Where do you start when you want to stop the bleeding from the wounds of victimization? I hope the following excerpt from my new book "Seeds from the Ashes: A New Way to Think and Live" will provide you with some helpful insights to these questions:

"Whenever you feel powerless to do something that you want to do, stop and ask yourself why. Why don't you have the power to achieve the things that you desire to have? The obvious answer is that you don't believe you are strong enough to achieve them....

"How do you attain this power? You attain power the same way as you attain anything else: you work for it.... If you desire to have a well-conditioned body, you must exercise regularly and monitor what you eat. If you desire to have a well-conditioned mind, you must exercise it regularly and monitor what you allow to enter into it....

"Some people have the resources to hire personal trainers to assist them with their conditioning program, while many others without such resources, either do it themselves or postpone action.... For you to begin to acquire the power you need to change your life, your exercise program must begin now with you acting as your own personal trainer.

"As a trainer, you assume expert status as someone who is eminently qualified to guide you during your mind-conditioning training. This type of thinking requires you to assume two roles: first, as someone who knows what you need, and second, as someone who is willing to listen...."

The quest to change how we think and live is an honorable one. For those of us who seek this knowledge, it requires a constant mindfulness over our thoughts and ideas.

I would like to receive your comments on this subject.